It’s a sad day in the world of retail: Opening Ceremony is shuttering its retail business. The news was announced via three Instagram posts, each with a photo of one of OC’s locations around the world.
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Dear Opening Ceremony Family, We welcomed our first customers into Opening Ceremony at 35 Howard Street on Sept 1, 2002, a year after downtown New York was changed forever by the destruction of the World Trade Center. We wanted to send a message of love to New York with our company and our big idea to change the way a retail store had been done before. Our dream to connect people from all over the world with positivity, to create a vibrant and inclusive community through self-expression is embodied in the name Opening Ceremony and the idea from where it came, the Olympics. When we began, we took our modest savings and asked our friends to sell their clothes at our store in an area of Soho that had not yet been developed. Brilliant young designers like United Bamboo, Benjamin Cho, Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Rodarte and AsFour were juxtaposed with designers from Hong Kong and Brazil who had never sold before in the US. We also made our own first pieces to sell, a diamond sweatshirt at first, which, by wearing it, became a shorthand for “I shopped at Opening Ceremony”. The store became a hangout and a meeting place for so many different visitors and locals who came by to find out what was happening in New York, because you could always get the scoop when you shopped. Opening Ceremony has expanded and evolved in countless ways since those first years in business. We’ve grown our own collection, starting from the platform of our first store, into a global Opening Ceremony brand for which we’ve held some of the most ambitious experiential fashion shows imaginable. At the same time, Opening Ceremony stores have been home to remarkable staff, customers and creative people where the wildest experiments in retail have taken place. Our stores in New York, Los Angeles, London and Tokyo have connected people from around world together and brought so much joy into our lives and to the lives of those who have come through our doors.
“We’ve made a decision to focus on growing Opening Ceremony collection and brand with our new partners, New Guards Group, and expand the designs of Opening Ceremony,” founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim said. “This is a moment of transition for Opening Ceremony and, together with our new partners, we are taking the chance to step back and evaluate the future of our Opening Ceremony retail experience. We are stepping back from multi-brand retail, for a moment, so we can come back with an experience that is just as inspiring, filled with love and relevant for the years ahead as Opening Ceremony has been.”
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This is why it’s incredibly emotional for us to announce today that we will be closing our Opening Ceremony retail locations sometime in 2020. We’ve made a decision to focus on growing Opening Ceremony collection and brand with our new partners, New Guards Group, and expand the designs of Opening Ceremony. Our brand takes the beautiful spirit of experimentation, fun and collaboration embodied in our stores and imbues this energy into the clothing we make. We know our decision may surprise you and it may be interpreted in many different ways. Ultimately, in this time of immense change in the way that people shop, we still believe in the power of passionate and unique retail. But we also believe in the necessity for change, reflection and an opportunity to refresh. This is a moment of transition for Opening Ceremony and, together with our new partners, we are taking the chance to step back and evaluate the future of our Opening Ceremony retail experience. We are stepping back from multi-brand retail, for a moment, so we can come back with an experience that is just as inspiring, filled with love and relevant for the years ahead as Opening Ceremony has been.
Leon and Lim opened their original OC boutique in 2002 in Soho. Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, and Rodarte were among the first brands the shop carried, establishing relationships with a new wave of fashion talent, and itself as the new vanguard of cool. Soon, locations were opened in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo, and an in-house fashion line was created.
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We are immensely proud of the experience we created through each of our stores. Each one has been a fearless testing ground for ideas and a place for the community to come together, not only to shop, but to discover. We explored the planet for the underrepresented, the outlandish and the utterly unique, in order to surprise our customers day after day. Hundreds upon hundreds of designers have called our stores home for their very first collections and it’s amazing how each store took on a life of its own. With our constant desire to reinvent, we will return to creating stores, but with a different mindset and perspective in order to wow people who are self-proclaimed shop-til-we-drops like us. Most importantly, this is a thank you letter. As children of immigrants who grew up in the suburbs, looking through magazines to learn about what was happening in fashion and culture, we feel incredibly lucky to have been able to even start this company. It is a thank you to you and to everyone who has stepped foot in our stores, offices, fashion shows, parties and homemade dinners by Wendy Leon. We thank our friends, family and our collaborators who brought their genius to Opening Ceremony (Chloe, Spike, Solange, Sasha, Robyn, and hundreds more). Our deepest thanks goes to our dedicated employees, without whom Opening Ceremony would not have the humanity, kindness and spirit of friendship that it is known for. Love, Carol and Humberto
Yesterday, Business of Fashion announced that New Guards Group had acquired OC’s trademark and intellectual property. Leon and Lim will also remain co-creative directors of Opening Ceremony’s in-house fashion line, but there are plans for NGG to take over its production. Given the other brands in NGG’s stable — including Off-White and Heron Preston — it seems to be a good fit for Leon and Lim. Their aesthetic and vision for fashion (both for OC and when they were at the helm of Kenzo) has always blended high fashion polish with a downtown, streetwear edge, which gels well with the group NGG is building. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.